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Committee Drafting Agreement on changing Church Location to Seminary Campus

Dec 05, 2002 01:49 PM EST

The committee appointed to examine a potential move of the Episcopal Church Center to a new facility on the campus of the General Theological Seminary (GTS) has reported to Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold that it has encountered difficulties and that it does not seem possible at this time to "successfully complete a binding agreement that will be acceptable to both parties."

The three members of the subcommittee asked to draft the binding agreement--Dall Forsythe, Russell Palmore and Andrew McMaster--said that conversations with Griswold and senior staff members convinced them that "relocating the church's headquarters to GTS may result in negative synergy--in problems instead of possibilities." The memo added, "It is our recommendation that the project be scrapped." Among the reservations cited were differences in the mission of a seminary and the national church and "concern expressed about the loss of flexibility associated with a thirty year commitment and the difficulty in predicting the shape and size of the national church staff in years to come."

Griswold reported to council members that "the process will continue as we sort through the significant issues involved and you will be kept informed in preparation for our January meeting" in the Dominican Republic.

In other action, the Investment Committee "by unanimous vote strongly recommends against pledging a significant portion of the Unrestricted Assets of the DFMS Endowment for the purpose of obtaining financing" for the project with GTS.

In an amplifying letter to Executive Council members, Griswold said that his reservations "are rooted in my focus on the missional energies" that he sees "so wonderfully at work in our church and on how these energies might best be supported and expanded." He said that he had concluded that "relocating the church center and building a conference center do not respond to the missional energies of the church at this moment and the desire to focus these energies on reaching out to the world. I further believe that taking on this project would be an enormous distraction in our common life. Much of our financial and staff resources would be diverted to bricks and mortar rather than advancing our mission."

By Albert H. Lee
chtoday_editor@chtoday.com